Iranian state media is attempting to shame Britney Spears after she tweeted support for protesters – Fortune
Iran is taking aim at Britney Spears as it attempts to blame Western celebrities for stoking violence and anger within the country.
Iran’s state-sponsored media, the Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA), hit back against Spears after she tweeted her support for the Iranian people who are protesting the country’s strict religious rules after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
To many, the tweet was an innocuous show of support, much like others sent by Western celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, and Justin Bieber. The short 13-word tweet said Spears and her Iranian-American husband “stand with the people of Iran fighting for freedom.”
Me & my husband stand with the people of Iran fighting for freedom.
But this tweet seemed to have hit a nerve in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which hit back on Twitter, citing Spears’s 13-year conservatorship, which came to an end in November 2021—and in doing so questioning her mental acuity. “American singer Britney Spears was placed under her father’s conservatorship in 2008 due to her mental health problems,” the organization tweeted.
American singer @BritneySpears was placed under her father’s conservatorship in 2008 due to her mental health problems. That gave Britney’s father control over her finances and even her personal life aspects such as pregnancy, remarriage and visits to her teenage sons.#MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/mmimVJwS4Z
The IRNA tweet said that her conservatorship “gave Britney’s father control over her finances and even her personal life aspects such as pregnancy, remarriage, and visits to her teenage sons.”
Iran’s attack on Spears comes as part of a wider social media strategy to attack and blame both Iranian and Western celebrities for stoking anger and protests within the country.
Mohsen Mansouri, governor of the province of Tehran, said in late September that Iran would “take action against the celebrities who have fanned the flames of the riots.” His comments were echoed by Iran’s judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, who charged that “those who became famous thanks to support from the system have joined the enemy when times are difficult.”
But so far the IRNA, which is under the direction of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, seems to be focusing its efforts on bringing down ’90s pop star sensations—its tweet before the one aimed at Spears targeted Shakira and her silence around Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women.
Does @shakira know anything about deplorable conditions of women in the US and Saudi Arabia? #MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/nKdLXSEEfp
Protests in Iran erupted on Sept. 16 after the public learned of the death of Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the country’s morality police a week earlier for “unsuitable attire” and showing too much hair under her head scarf, or hijab. Amini died in the hospital days after her arrest, with images suggesting she had been beaten. Her family came forward to say she had been killed by the police, although the police claim she died of a sudden heart attack.
According to the NGO Iran Human Rights, as of Oct. 17 at least 215 people had been killed during the government’s crackdown on the ensuing protests. The protests mark the deadliest civil unrest in the country since protests in 2019 and 2020 that resulted in more than 1,500 deaths.
To quell dissent, Iranian authorities have almost completely shut off the country’s internet and restricted access to Instagram and WhatsApp. London-based internet monitoring site Netblocks told Sky News that the authorities had managed to cut off regions and platforms more quickly and with greater precision than in the past, imposing a daily nation-scale internet curfew.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has attempted to keep strict control over the internet since 2012, going so far as to set up a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, dominated by security agencies with no public oversight, to regulate online spaces and formulate Iran’s internet policy.
This hasn’t stopped #mahsaamini, or in Persian #مهسا_امینی, from becoming the most widely used hashtag over the six weeks since the protests began. According to social analytics company TalkWalker, #mahsaamini has been posted at least 65.1 million times across the internet since her death and #مهسا_امینی has been posted at least 305.5 million times. Even the IRNA used #mahsaamini in its own tweet when calling out Spears, possibly in a move to populate the pro-protest online space with government narratives.
Beyond using hashtags, protestors have spread the message of the fight against the regime by adopting protest songs like “Baraye,” by one of Iran’s most popular musicians, Shervin Hajipour, and taking the act of women cutting their hair viral.
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